Behind the scenes with the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society in Banstead
- Credit: Archant
For over 150 years, the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society has provided vital care and support to those returning from a life at sea. Anne Kasey, registered home manager at the society’s Weston Acres estate in Banstead, tells us more
Tell us a bit about the charity…
The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society was established in 1865 to support destitute and ‘worn out’ seafarers returning from a life at sea. Over the course of its 152 year history, the maritime charity has built an impressive reputation for providing care and facilities for those whose lives at sea can often leave them distressed and isolated. The society runs a nursing home and sheltered accommodation on its leafy Weston Acres estate in Banstead, Surrey, where men, women and their dependents who have served in the Royal and Merchant Navies or the fishing fleet can find a home from sea. Belvedere House has more than 60 rooms and provides personalised care to residents including those with dementia.
What’s the most important thing that’s been achieved so far?
We are privileged to be able to serve those who lived their lives at sea and enable them to find peace and comfort on our Weston Acres site. The comments and feedback from family members of residents and the residents themselves is, without a doubt, what motivates us each and every day. Winning the national Laing Buisson Award for Small Provider of the Year at the end of 2017 was a particularly special moment for us as it acknowledged the hard work of all our staff members and the lengths they go to in order to provide the best care.
Describe your volunteers to us…
The atmosphere in our home is naturally convivial with a community of seafarers, who share their extraordinary adventures with like-minded people – our volunteers support this atmosphere by lending a listening ear, joining in with the many activities or even helping run our bar.
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Do you have any well-known supporters or patrons?
We are proud to have Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal as our patron. In recent years we have had visits from celebrities including Shane Richie and Virginia McKenna OBE. We also receive support grants from organisations including Seafarers UK, the Royal Navy Association and the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society, which allows us to support an increasing number of seafarers.
If readers were to give £10, how might that be spent?
We are incredibly grateful for any donation we receive to support the services we offer. Donations made to us support the general maintenance of the buildings and gardens, refurbishment projects and staffing.
What can they do if they’d like to get involved themselves?
We are always on the lookout for new volunteers! To chat to us about the opportunities you can email us at email@example.com or call us on 01737 360106. We also have an enquiry form on our website or you can simply drop by for a friendly chat at Belvedere House in Banstead.
What is your top fundraising tip?
We have always found that group challenges and local community events are a great fundraising idea. For the past three years, our team members took on the 24 Peaks Challenge, scaling the Lake District’s 24 peaks over the course of just 24 hours and walking a total of 31 miles. These regular events and our annual Open Day during Seafarers Awareness Week in June allow us to showcase our commitment to our cause alongside the fantastic facilities we provide.
How important is philanthropy?
Charities like us rely on the sustained support of those around us. Philanthropy can take many forms, not simply the kind donation of funds. The people of Surrey have been very welcoming of our cause and we hope we will continue to see this generosity of spirit in future years. Remembering a charity within your will offers another way to provide charities like us with a lasting legacy. These legacies are a particularly important source of income for the Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society and a fantastic way to ensure that our work continues into the future.
What do you enjoy most about being based in Surrey?
The serene surroundings of our 14-acre Weston Acres home in Banstead offer unparalleled respite for those who stay with us. The society is incredibly lucky to have found such a supportive home within the
Belverdere House is running an open day on June 27 as part of Seafarers Awareness Week, which runs from June 23 to 30. Look the charity up on Facebook or Twitter or visit royalalfredseafarers.co.uk for more details.